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Tel Jezreel, Jezreel Spring and Naboth's vineyard

Tel Jezreel (tel yizra'el in Hebrew) is located on a rocky spur on the foothills of the Gilboa Mountain Range. This was the main fortress of the Northern Israelite kingdom in the 9th century BCE. You will have wonderful views over the eastern Jezreel Valley. Archeological digs have been carried out on the tell, but there is nothing for visitors to view. A short, easy hike goes from the tell to the Jezreel Spring and pool in the Jezreel Valley below. You may well be walking on the very path that King Ahab took when visiting Naboth’s vineyard! 

The Jezreel Valley is so named because of the fortress at Yizra’el. It was on the side of the valley and overlooked the Via Maris in the valley below. The Via Maris was the main highway that connected Egypt to Syria and Mesopotamia. The fortress also overlooked a major north-south road that connected the Galilee to Jerusalem via Ganim (Jenin).

Yizra’el was one of the main residences of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Ahab’s father Omri built Samaria as the southern capital of his kingdom. Yizra’el was probably his northern capital. It contained his main army and chariot force. We know from Assyrian inscriptions that Ahab had a mighty army, and that he participated in a battle against the Assyrians with a force of 2,000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers.



Time: Just under an hour there and back.

Distance: 2 Km there and back.

Type of hike: Same way there and back.

Difficulty: Easy walking along a gravel path with some stone steps. The incline is not particularly steep.

Directions: Enter “Tel Jezreel” into Waze. This will bring you to the parking lot for the tel.

Admission: There is no admission charge, no brochure, and no restrooms. 

Public transport: There are a number of bus routes that stop close to the tel. Enter "Tel Yizreel" into Moovit.

Jezreel valley.jpeg

Hidden by a eucalyptus grove are the Jezreel Spring, pool, picnic tables, and camping places. 

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  • From the parking lot take the trail to the Observation Point. You will pass a sign in Hebrew relating the Biblical account of Naboth’s murder.

At the Observation Point is a sign with distances to the places you are viewing. Ahead of you (to the north), on the far side of the Jezreel Valley, is the Hill of Moreh (Givat HaMoreh). In front of and to the left (west) of this hill are Moshav Merhavia and Kibbutz Merhavia. The Arab town of Sulam (known in the Bible as Shumen) is at the foot of this hill. To your west in the Jezreel Valley is the city of Afula, and north of this in the hills of the Galilee the city of Nazareth. The Jezreel Spring below you is hidden from your view because of the eucalyptus grove. At the time of the northern Israelite kingdom, this spring would have been protected by the lower city of Jezreel.

  • The blue-marked trail turns down the hill. 

  • At the base of the hill pass through the open gate and continue straight ahead through the field.


  • At the edge of the field turn right to the pool. In the center of the pool are the ruins of a house. There is a parking lot, picnic benches and places for camping.


  • Return to your car the way you came.

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Pool by the Jezreel Spring.

Naboth's vineyard and the power of monarchy


The biblical account of Naboth and his vineyard is a story about three approaches to monarchy. One is the system most prevalent in that historic period. Kings received their power from the gods and they could do whatever they could get away with. Diametrically opposed to this is the Torah system promoted by the prophets of Israel, such as Elijah, that a king is never above the law. His powers were also limited by the Torah. For example, he should not have too many wives, nor too many horses (for chariots). The Northern Israelite Kingdom followed a hybrid system. It was culturally Jewish and sometimes held by Torah law, but it was also open to the cultures around and frequently practiced paganism.


King Ahab was set up by his father Omri to become one of the most powerful monarchs in the region. Omri sealed an alliance with the important Phoenician people by marrying his son to Jezebel, the daughter of the king of Tyre. As did Solomon, Ahab built a temple to Baal so she could worship her gods. Sensing Israel’s ambivalence with respect to monotheism, this strong-willed woman pushed for the worship of Baal Melqart, the deity of Tyre, to become the dominant form of worship in her husband’s kingdom. She also tried to eliminate the prophets of God and financially supported 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. This led eventually to a confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, during which Elijah killed all her prophets. Nevertheless, this did not curb Jezebel’s zeal for converting Ahab’s kingdom to paganism.


Adjacent to Ahab’s palace in Jezreel was Naboth's vineyard and Ahab wished to make it into a vegetable garden. Ahab offered him a replacement of even greater worth or an outright sale. Naboth refused both saying: “God forbid that I should give to you what I have inherited from my fathers” (1 Kings 21:4). Naboth was within his rights to say this, since according to biblical law, land in Israel was not to be sold in perpetuity but had to be returned to its tribal owner (Leviticus 25:23). When Jezebel found out how upset her husband was, she sent letters to the elders and officials of the city to find two false witnesses to accuse Naboth of blaspheming the monotheistic God and the king. He was found guilty and following biblical law he was stoned. In this situation, normal inheritance would be bypassed and his estate would go to the king. Ahab deliberately turned a blind eye to what his wife was doing.


Elijah the prophet was told by God to confront Ahab with the well-known words “Have you murdered and then inherited?” (I Kings 21:19). Elijah prophesied that measure for measure, Ahab and his queen would die, as would all his dynasty, and that their blood would be lapped up by the dogs.


Ahab repented and his punishment was delayed. Nevertheless, he died three years later in battle and the blood from his chariot was lapped up by dogs at the pool in Samaria. Elijah’s successor Elisha encouraged Jehu, one of Ahab’s generals, to carry out a palace coup. Jehu killed Ahab’s son and successor King Yoram, all of Ahab's other sons, and their mother Jezebel. All Baal worshippers in the kingdom were also killed.

Interestingly, indicators of a nearby winery have been found in the Jezreel Valley just south of Kibbutz Jezreel, including rock cut vats and a treading floor; although there is no definitive evidence linking it to Naboth.

Links to the HOME PAGE and best family activities, hikes and historic sites in the GOLAN, EASTERN GALILEE, UPPER GALILEE, LOWER GALILEE, JORDAN VALLEY & LAKE KINNERET, the SHEFELAH, TEL AVIV-YAFFO and surroundings, NORTH of TEL AVIV, and SOUTH of TEL AVIV.

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